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Dyads of Father and Son Suicide Separated by Time and Circumstances

Carson, Henry J. MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2010 - Volume 31 - Issue 1 - p 80-82
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181c2174d
Case Report

We encountered 2 dyadic suicides among fathers and sons. In the first dyad, the father was a 64-year-old man with complications of heart surgery. He committed suicide with a shotgun. The decedent's son was a 38-year-old man. Five years after his father's death, the son had an argument with his wife. That morning, he drove to the house where his father had lived and inflicted a handgun wound to his head. In the second dyad, the son was a 22-year-old man whose girlfriend left him. He inflicted a shotgun injury to the head. His blood alcohol level was 294 mg/dL. The father of this decedent was a 43-year-old man who 1 year later was despondent after a fight with his girlfriend. He was found dead at home with a single handgun wound to the chest. His blood alcohol level was 173 mg/dL. All 4 suicides appear to have been premeditated and all 4 men used guns. Suicide in a family tends to cause depression and complicate bereavement in survivors more than other types of death. Copycat suicide is well-documented in high-profile cases. The effect of father-son relationships is likely closer and more influential than celebrity suicides.

From the Linn County Medical Examiner's Office, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Manuscript received December 11, 2008; accepted May 27, 2009.

Reprints: Henry J. Carson, MD, Linn County Medical Examiner's Office, Cedar Rapids, IA 52406. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.